Montreal Based Lighting Design Firm Lightemotion Lights up the Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax Museum
According to the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax – commonly known as Ajax FC – is one of the most prestigious (soccer) clubs in the world and is ranked the seventh most successful in Europe during the 20th century. Ajax has won the European Cup three times and the Intercontinental Cup twice, among other prestigious tournament titles.
Like any city with a sports team, Amsterdam loves its Ajax (named for the Greek hero). What better way to show that admiration than compiling memorabilia and history in a convenient space for fans to visit all year long? Originally established as a much smaller venue inside the Ajax stadium before being relocated to the Arena stadium on the outskirts of the city, the organizers of Ajax decided it was time to expand the concept further. Not only is the square footage much larger than the previous incarnations, but it now resides on a major square – Rembrandtplein – in central Amsterdam, where it is easily accessible to tourists and fans alike.
Located in a former bank building, the newly opened Ajax Experience is a novel, interactive museum that entertainingly provides the history of the team from the rigors of the youth training program through the behind-the-scenes preparations of the professional team and details of its heroes through the years.
Lightemotion, the Montreal, Canada-based lighting design studio, is responsible for illuminating the museum, which was architecturally designed by Sid Lee Architecture in collaboration with interactive and exhibit designer gsmprjct°, which designed the museum scenography, and Jimmy Lee.tv. Lightemotion’s responsibility was to enhance the dynamism and bring visual excitement to the Ajax Experience.
Francois Roupinian, founder of Lightemotion, explains, “Ajax is one of the most respected football clubs in the world and is renowned for its innovative training methods. We have tried to capture the romance of the game and the inspiration behind the cutting-edge techniques of the club in our work. We want to create an atmosphere that is dynamic and celebratory, inspirational and exciting – just like Ajax FC.”
Split into three main areas, the visitor’s tour of the Ajax Experience begins in the History Hall. This bright space, lit partially by daylight, presented several challenges because of the diversely angled wall and a ceiling with a steep diagonal pitch. The solution was to install metal halide light sources on the structural columns to cross-light the dynamic wall, while LED fixtures bathe the red inclined ceiling plane. “When you’re in the space, you don’t notice the lighting,” Roupinian notes. “The wall just seems to glow.”
Upon leaving the History Hall, guests venture into the Ajax Academy. Here, the atmosphere instantly changes. In the confines of a windowless space, black angular walls are a backdrop for both traditional and interactive exhibits. The space is deliberately dark, with illumination concentrated on the exhibits for emphasis.
Using LEDs and halogen lamps, Lightemotion illuminated the showcase displays from within via backlit panels and spotlights. Ceiling-mounted fixtures literally put the spotlight on the people as they travel through the exhibition.
“We’re giving a taste of what it’s like to be a famous player. Putting them in the spotlight creates a connection, a relationship between them and their heroes,” Roupinian remarks.
Visitors also get the chance to visit a replica of the team’s locker room and take a walk down the tunnel to the pitch. Red spotlights make visitors feel like they are the stars of the show, while red beams create the illusion of being inside the stadium.
No museum would be complete without a gift shop, and the Ajax Experience is no different in that regard. However, the ambiance created for the shop is unique. As in the History Hall, daylight is supplemented by discreet artificial lighting, but there’s a twist: Lightemotion opted to uplight the merchandise displays to retain the “exhibit” feel, thus enhancing the buying experience.
“Our challenge was to create a dynamic solution for the Ajax Experience amidst many different installations and spaces,” Roupinian states. “The key to the success of our design was using only a narrow range of product types – Luminergie, iGuzzini , and Philips Selecon – but concentrating on high-quality light sources and accessories along with extremely good control of the lighting.”
The feedback from fans since the museum opened several months ago has been gratifying. The Ajax Experience is now widely recognized as one of 50 museums to see while in Amsterdam.
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